Monday, April 16, 2018

Cross Over

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't publish a post last Monday. I escaped to a private retreat in the Rocky Mountains for a week. I had been feeling disconnected from myself and God for quite a while. The photo I took, above, was part of my escape and became a metaphor for my life.

It was a week of refreshment, introspection, and reviewing the 'clauses' of my life 'contract'. I needed to know if anything significant had changed in terms of what I desire for my life. Having a lot of time by myself confirmed that all of the deepest desires remained solid.

The things I wanted were still the case and meditating on those things brought a renewed fire and excitement to my heart. Yet, there was something seriously lacking - the cross over.

Why do I feel like the things I want to pursue can't truly be pursued? Perhaps, it's been through my own sabotage that prevents me from reaching the other side of the bridge. Telling myself just a bit longer, save a bit more money, hold on to the security.

The excuses, fears, and lack of resources (whether true or imagined), usually got me to half or three quarters of the way across. Then doubts of 'making it' would hound me, being convinced that it was not possible to truly pursue the things I wanted to pursue.

How many times do we self-sabotage when it comes to going after what burns in our gut, brings life to our spirits, and lights our eyes on fire? Too many times we talk ourselves out of something because it might be too hard. Isn't that what makes it worthwhile?

Shouldn't we throw caution to the wind, especially as believers, in trusting God completely for what we have already come to believe He desires we go after? Otherwise, why would the hunger and drive exist?

When I looked at the beginning of that bridge, it shocked me to see how much it represented my life. How many times I stopped going after something for one excuse or another. How I would be so close to achieving something big, only to turn back because the way ahead was hidden and unknown.

That's just too scary, isn't it? Yet, I can't help but hear the words from a book in the Bible called 2 Timothy. Timothy was a young believer, afraid to be open about the very desire that burned in him to pursue. His mentor/teacher Paul, would build up and encourage Timothy in the tough times.

One such time is found in this small book named for the young Jesus follower in chapter 1, verse 7 which says, "For God did not give you a spirit of timidity; but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." This instruction hits me between the eyes every time I read it.

I'm not meant to cower from my desires or that which gives a strong compulsion to go after. I am meant to cross over to the other side of that daunting, old, intimidating life bridge. So are you.

Encouragement for the week:

What stops you from going after your desires? It's time to stare down and get rid of the excuses stopping you.

If you are a Christian reading this, you were not given fear when you became a believer. All the power Jesus had, was given to you when you made the decision in your heart to live for Him. Cross over the bridge.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. The fears and doubts in your life will be small compared to the power of Jesus as part of a relationship with Him.






Monday, April 2, 2018

Me, Me, Meeeeee!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


When I first became a Christian, it was no longer about me. I wanted to live, fully, for the one who had just changed my life in ways I never thought possible. The tremendous joy, peace, and unconditional love had me wanting more while doing away, completely, of myself. There wasn't much good that was worth keeping.

However, as time went on and the newness of my salvation wore off, it seems there was still a lot of the old 'me' left over and it wanted to shine, once again. I started living more and more for myself. Wanting what I wanted and doing whatever I wanted to do, whenever. That's usually a recipe for disaster and it was. The level of my selfishness appeared to be no better now than before my life changed.

I've been a Christian, now, for almost eleven years and I have had my ups and downs. That's typically how it goes when you are still dealing with the person you used to be while, genuinely, welcoming Jesus into your life and heart to do an 'extreme makeover' as it were. No matter what, you are always battling against the old you. I guess there is no real preparation for the battle. It is something that has to be worked out over time.

It feels like there is more battle than ease. Trying not to do things that I really don't want to do can be a challenge. Especially, when I enter into a mindset of just wanting to be and not face the real world with all its obstacles and hardships. Makes me sound a bit like a wuss or a child. I can be and have been, both.

However, being the old 'me' does cause certain behaviors that I really dislike. Sometimes, words can be said and actions done to portray what is in my heart and mind, without much of a filter before releasing them. I can say an unkind word or be critical of someone without truly wanting it to come out that way, but realizing that the person already perceived and received it as negative. I, recently, had a realization that I was being critical with a person I shouldn't have. I felt bad and made amends to them.

It's a challenge not to be hard on myself while trying to keep in mind that I am a work in progress and that things will get better as I come closer to God each day. As diligent as I try, compromise of character and behaviors slip in without hitting my internal radar. It's disheartening, especially if I have hurt others without intending to do so.

One of the good things about being in a relationship with God is that I don't have to try and fix the compromises on my own because I know I can't. Only God can make the changes that will last. So, it's up to me to recognize that I have compromised something I shouldn't have and, with the help of the Holy Spirit (an internal compass for good), take it all to God in prayer. Asking Him to change everything in me that doesn't belong and helping me to see things through, while the change takes place, makes all the difference. Change isn't always instantaneous and it takes work to go against the natural want to do my own thing and have my way.

Yet, when I keep praying and things start to change in me or my circumstances, it's like my whole self is breathing a sigh of relief at what was really needed. It's almost like climbing a rugged and steep mountain then reaching the top to find that the other side is so much better than where I started. It's hard work to change but the work is worth it when it's done, and living an uncompromising life helps me sleep at night.

Encouragement for the week:

Is there something in your life you keep making allowances for? Does it bother you to the point that you lose precious sleep at night?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we are meant to be Christ-like and change won't always happen overnight. Persevere in praying to God for change to happen in you, and the freedom you find in becoming more like Jesus, will be like breathing the freshest air.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He wants to help you make healthy changes in you and your life.










Monday, March 26, 2018

Is It Any Wonder?

Image result for pictures of lynda carter as wonder woman
**Photo courtesy of www.google.com**

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Wonder Woman when I grew up. Watching her on TV captured me. Her flowing black hair, super powers and strong confidence, were the epitome of what I thought a real woman looked like.

My excitement increased with each episode of Wonder Woman, played by Lynda Carter. My passion to be just like her grew every time I saw her exercise her special powers and don her colorful costume. Come to think of it, I may have dressed up like her for Halloween as a youngster.

Seeing her gave me the drive to be someone exceptional. To be my own Wonder Woman. Things were definitely simpler and easier when I was younger. Now as an adult, in the day to day monotony that life can become, I struggle to keep what excites, energizes and drives me as the focal point while I'm on my way to pursuing my true passion full time. That passion being writing.

While it is the very thing that brings me to life, it doesn't pay the bills. So, I must be responsible and take care of the day-to-day things that only a paying job can allow. Not exactly a Wonder Woman moment.

Yet, I'm waiting for the moment when I can do away with my everyday, ordinary wardrobe in exchange for a super cape. When my alter ego that hides behind a desk can jump into action and go after that which drives me.

It's not the chasing after a crazy dream that is ridiculous, it's the abandoning of that crazy dream. To think about incessantly, that one thing you can't stop thinking about, means it is an important part of who you are. To desire something that's so strong in your gut and spirit is what, I believe, life is all about. It's also something God wants for me.

In the Bible, which is God's Word, it says that there's nothing we can't think of or imagine that isn't too big for God to do. It's within a small book called Ephesians, that says, "Now to him (God) who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power..." (Ephesians 4:20).

In that promise there is no dream too small or passion too great that God can't make a reality. It is there because He placed it there and if that is the case, the drive to do that one thing will not go away. So, I hold on to the hope that it's just a matter of time before I become Wonder Woman.

Encouragement for the week:

Whatever you dream of, or are passionate about, it can all be a reality.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that nothing is impossible for God. Even while you're in the monotonous or frustrating things of life, don't give up on your dreams. He can and will do more than you can ever ask or imagine.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He created you to have dreams and passions for your life and He can help you make them a reality.













Monday, March 19, 2018

Survival Of The Fittest

**Photo courtesy of www.google.com**

The newest version of Tomb Raider is now being shown in theatres. Reprising the role of Lara Croft comes a younger protégé who is just as much of a globetrotting adventure seeker as the original  played by Angelina Jolie.

When you see the trailers for this movie, there's no lack of action, suspense, or incredible death defying scenes showing the young Croft, seemingly, plummeting to her death. All the while, the voice of Beyoncé is heard in the background belting out the words, "I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up..."

It's hard not to get caught up in the mood and intentional Hollywood drama of the film when you see the best parts in a commercial. It makes you feel that if Lara Croft can do all that and survive, surely, my life can be the same.

There are a lot of shows that highlight extraordinary situations showing a dramatic fight, rescue, or emotional scene and ending with a hard-to-believe conclusion. That's the magic of television and film. However, some real life situations don't end in a superhero fashion. Sometimes, life gets hard and you begin to wonder if you will ever survive.

I have been struggling with my own life and the things that happen in it, wondering if I am making the right decisions for myself, in line with what God wants for me. What if I don't exactly know what that is? Knowing I can decide and make choices is great, but can't that be dangerous? Almost like engaging in my own suspenseful, death defying adventure movie. While having that freedom can be exhilarating, I feel as though there has to be some light treading. After all, there is no single choice in the world that does not come without consequences.

Just like Lara Croft, I could easily have a crazy adventure. The thought of something different is exciting and refreshing but what lies on the other side after the newness of it wears off? Just like each subsequent adventure that young Croft experiences. Being battered and bruised after each situation has to get really old after a while. Oh, if only life could be a Hollywood movie and if we don't like the direction it's taking, we yell, "Cut!" and try another take, a different way.

Trying to choose wisely, while seemingly freely, must be entered into with great caution. Some choices result in an outcome that can be quite horrible. My thoughts go to Jesus, the Son of God, as He could have chosen not to endure the horrible and painful destination of the Cross. His short ministry was radical and exciting, especially for those who followed Him as He did miracles and fed thousands of people with a couple loaves of bread and a few fish.

Yet, Christ always knew why He was there and to show others, in dramatic ways, how far He would go to save those He loved. The final take of His ministry would be the death defying scene that had no stunt double or the yelling of 'cut' because it didn't look right. He was facing something dramatic...death on the Cross, in order to save the world from all the things that we were just trying to survive. While I am glad it wasn't me who had to hang on that Cross, the enormity of the sacrifice is never lost on me.

Life can be fun and exciting and choices can be made, but it's important to note that the choices made should be ones you can live with and survivable in every way.

Encouragement for the week:

Life is filled with excitement and adventure and we are able to make all kinds of decisions at any time. Be sure that the choices you make are the ones of which the consequences can be lived with.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God gave you a free will to do as you wish and make the choices you desire to make. God wants us to make the right choices in line with His Word and will for our lives. Don't take chances with your freedom to choose.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He will help you to make the right choices, at the right time in your life. That's how much He cares for you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Perplexed In The City

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

The other day I drove to the city (*shudder*). I used to live in a city with over a million people for almost 11 years. At one time, I thought it was the place to be because of its action, fast pace, exciting night life and all the conveniences you could possibly want.

About three and a half years ago, I moved out to the country. What was interesting is that every desire to be in a big city, instantly, left me. The enormity of city life no longer drew me and that excited me. As did the slower pace, longer walks, and sitting up against a bale of hay for hours while sunshine splashed on my face. Things only found in wide, open spaces like the farm I live on.

So, when this trip to the city was required, I began to notice a difference in me. There was anxiety, irritability, and impatience. My heart began to race as I joined the mass of other motorists getting to where they needed to go. I didn't like what was happening in or around me. It felt like insanity.

Every minute of being in the city brought a curiosity of when we were going to leave. I was in the midst of everything I, now, disliked. Yet, I made the best of it and was delighted when it was time to leave and having peace again, increasingly, as I drove further away. Another confirmation that this girl was no longer fit for city life.

It seems that I am not alone in this sentiment. In fact, the Bible talks about Jesus, the Son of God, as a solitary man. While He did great things in the towns and communities He visited, healing and saving people, He valued His time away from everything and everyone.

He craved solitude. It was a time of refreshment and intimacy with His Father, God. He would, often, steal away from the crowds to be alone and pray. In a book called Mark (one of Jesus' disciples), he talks about Jesus as a man who looked forward to being alone. In chapter 1, verse 35, Mark writes, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

I'm not sure in whose house Jesus was staying, but it's obvious He liked His alone time. Perhaps, that's why I enjoy the country life so much. I crave the solitude and openness to meet with my Heavenly Father just as Jesus did. I long to get away from the craziness that life can, sometimes, throw at me. There is peace and contentment that I find every time, without fail, in that solitary place.

Encouragement for the week:

Does the city life gang up on you sometimes? It certainly had an unsavory effect on me in so many ways. Slowing down and taking time in a solitary place is something we should all invest in.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we are called to be in solitude with God so that we can better deal with the difficulties and disappointments of life. Take every opportunity you can to be in a solitary place with the Lord.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. The quiet and restful places you long for can be found in the loving arms of Jesus. You will find peace and contentment with Him, away from the busyness of life.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Home Sweet Home

**Photo courtesy of www.google.com**

Throughout most of my domestic career, my status has been renter. It was only for a short period of time that I was a homeowner but that was a common law arrangement that ended in disaster. So, I continue to rent. I know there are negative aspects associated with renting but I haven't had a desire to own again.

Though each one of my rental experiences has been different, one thing remains the same - I treat every rental as if it were my home. That is, I respect both the property and the space that I'm living in. I keep things clean and don't abuse the privileges I have of renting someone else's space. After all, it is still theirs whether they live in the building or not.

I never had wild parties or let garbage build up. There weren't friends who slept on my couch to sleep off a hangover or was loud music ever being played at all hours of the night. As rebellious as I was in action over many of my years, I was always responsible when it came to renting whether it was a room in a house, basement suite or entire house. There was just no other way.

That's why it baffles me when I hear stories about renters who have destroyed property that isn't theirs. I just can't wrap my head around why a property that isn't theirs would be so disrespected. For the past couple years I've taken on the responsibility of managing a property and I have seen first-hand what can happen in a rental situation. How one person's home can be completely taken for granted and abused by others. It is upsetting to see.

Then I have to stop myself and keep in mind that not everyone lives as I would which is still a bit bizarre because, at the end of the day, I think common sense and respect should preside over most things.

However, in my own human nature, I have to shift to other things otherwise what I have seen can upset me and consume my every thought. Seeing the unkempt reality actually reminded me of how many people have no home to go to. No rental to pay in exchange for a dry, warm, and safe environment. Then my thoughts go to all the homeless near me and far from me and I become saddened.

In the Bible, there is a man who never had a home of his own, not permanently on Earth anyway. That man was Jesus. Though He traveled many miles helping people and doing miraculous things, He never had a place to call home. In a book called Matthew, one of Jesus' disciples, Matthew writes the words of Jesus who said, "Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20).

That, alone, puts things into perspective for me, especially when I am confused and upset about something as insignificant as dirty walls or carpets that are not vacuumed. It could be a lot worse I suppose.

Encouragement for the week:

As a homeowner, you don't want to see anything get damaged if you have decided to turn your home into a rental property but, realistically, things will happen. That's where you have to be somewhat removed from getting too upset.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that our earthly homes are temporary and that we are to have our eyes turned to our eternal home in heaven which will never wear down. During the tough times of life, especially if you are a landlord, remember where your true home is.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He cares for you and He has a wonderful home planned for you when you enter into a relationship with Him.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Private Eyes

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Whether the song by Hall and Oates or the television series (reviving Jason Priestly's career...oh, Beverly Hills 90210!), private eyes are watching you. Seems like everything you do or say is being seen and scrutinized by other people.

While being under watchful eyes can be beneficial, our politically correct society has been certain to bring all you do and say under the microscope and shared with millions.

Some finger wagging borders on the ridiculous but, for the most part, hurtful. For example, the shaming of nursing mothers. A function that is the most natural after childbirth. Yet, some have felt it necessary to express their disgust when a mother, while covered up, breastfeeds her children in public.

It amazes me how backward the world has become. How male and female can be pitted against each other. That there can be mistrust, deception, and hurt in our midst but it appears to be that way for the time being.

I guess I just don't understand it at times until I find myself with an attitude that can cause me to say or do the wrong things. Then I know that my heart isn't in the right place, that it's hurting and so is the reason for many others who lash out. Then I recall the universal phrase of, "Hurt people, hurt people."

In my own life, I have been on both the giving and receiving end of watching eyes. I have been the one to slew insults and shame on those who perturbed me. I also received shaming and reprimands from others who believed they knew better.

However, after I had an encounter with God and my life changed radically, my heart of stone had been softened and I began to see and feel the hurt of people around me. It was unbelievable to me but so needed.

These days, I am very thankful to have the watchful eyes of my Heavenly Father on me at all times. He helps to guide and direct my life in ways that are best. There is a book in the Bible written by a prophet named Isaiah who talks about God's involvement in our life direction.

In Isaiah 30:21, there is a reference to God's watchful eyes, saying, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it."" (Isaiah 30:21)

To me, having that kind of navigation is priceless and it saves me from having to retrace any wrong steps and move into the place that I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to do, for the best God has planned for me.

Encouragement for the week:

Ever feel like someone is always watching you, criticizing everything you do or say, not really having an interest in what's best and good for you?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God does not shame you about anything you have done or said. He always watches over you. His love for you is unconditional and His ways and discipline in your life are best. Keep following that still, small voice that gives you direction for your life.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is not interested in where you have been or what you have done. He is not interested in making you feel bad about past choices. He is, however, very interested in you and your life right now. He wants to keep His eyes on you so that you have the very best in your life while going in the right direction.